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11/18 The Coming Revolt of the Guards

“Certain basic things would be abundant enough to be taken out of the money system and be available-free- to everyone: food, housing, healthcare, education, transportation.” P. 639

Zinn’s imagined future exists around the principle that the inalienable rights people supposedly have should be more wide ranging than simply life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He is arguing that people additionally maintain the right to things more practical and less philosophical like “food”. I agree with Zinn’s assessment that the overall quality of life would massively increase if the United States adopted these as their basic principles. As nice as I believe Zinn’s hypothetical world would be, I don’t know if the 99% could ever organize well enough to make such a transition possible. As I read Zinn’s writings, I do question how much of the establishments repression of the bottom 99% is maliciously done in comparison to how much of it just naturally developed throughout history. Undoubtedly, what Zinn is suggesting would require adopting many more socialist policies in the United States. Due to the massive amounts of anti-socialist propaganda spread during the Cold War, such a large scale change would require a massive shift in public opinion. The American public would need to be educated about the reality of socialism to the point where the conditioning that occurred during the Cold War could be undone. Zinn using the metaphor of the middle class being the guards to the lower classes’ prison was spot on in the way it depicts why it is so difficult to rise from poverty. In some ways, the guards are so afraid of becoming prisoners themselves that they fight to desperately hold their own position in the economic hierarchy. The defensive position the middle class find themselves in makes it harder for them to worry about and attempt to fix the issues of the poor as they in constant fear of their own taxes being raised. Zinn’s dream world relies on the fact that the cutthroat atmosphere between those in the 99% is beginning to disappear. Hopefully class consciousness will continue to grow in the US and we as a whole will start to move towards Zinn’s ideal world as it would improve the quality of living for the majority of Americans. I am optimistic that we will eventually reach Zinn’s ideal, as it seems that society constantly moves in the progressive direction, but I am not sure of how long such changes may take.


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  1. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    The quote from the Zinn reading that you have also provided above is very interesting and I somewhat agree with it. I think that in a perfect world, those needs should be provided to all people; however, everyone is too focused on becoming wealthy themselves that they forget to recognize that they are hurting other people in the process. If the necessities mentioned above were given to all Americans, how would that impact our economy? Would we then be leaning towards a more communist society?

  2. Margot Roussel Margot Roussel

    I agree with you that it would take a lot of unlearning to move towards a more socialist lifestyle. But I wonder if that is even possible in the United States at all. I think the US was built on the idea that everyone works for themselves and it would take a major shift before people would be willing to work for others. I think that to some extent it is human nature to help others but it is also human nature to hoard food in order to stay alive. I wonder if there is any world that the need to help others would override our selfish instincts.

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